Mediterranean meets Mexico
I’ve been obsessed lately with the intersection of Greek and Mexican food. Especially the common ingredients each culture uses in its food and cocktails and the differences and variations that exist. If the Greeks historically had access to jalapeno or chipotle peppers, would we use those in our fiery feta dips? Farmers are just starting to grow avocados in Greece and they’ve unsurprisingly become an obsession, making their way onto menus like they’ve been there all along.
Similarly, Mexican chef Pati Jinich embraces feta cheese in her cookbook Pati’s Mexican Table: The Secrets of Read Mexican Home Cooking. She pairs feta with poblanos and potatoes for a delicious frittata, and weaves them into a watermelon salad with tomatillo — a slight variation on cotija cheese that Mexican cooks might traditionally use. And let’s face it, both cultures have rabid desire for rice pudding.
When my husband and I visit Baja, California, we feel like we’re in a parallel part of Greece. The wine culture of the Valle de Guadalupe and innovative restaurants that exist because of it, along with the bounty of seafood that exists along the coast is just as exciting as any gastronomic adventure in the Aegean.
Crossroads of two delicious cuisines
These trips inspired my latest pop-up menu for my Mediterranean Meets Mexico Feast. The menu blends some of my favorite Greek and Mexican dishes, along with components of both to make new dishes like octopus tostadas with avocado skordalia, and picadillo pastitsio. I also kick off every pop-up experience with a welcome cocktail, and for this dinner it will be my Greek Goddess Mastiha Margarita.
Legend has it that the bartender at Cantina Hussong’s in Ensenada, Mexico invented the margarita in 1941. He created a mixture of equal parts tequila, damiana and lime, and served it over ice in a salt-rimmed glass to Margarita Henkel, daughter of the German Ambassador to Mexico. Since then, margaritas have migrated to nearly every corner of the world with countless variations.
This Mastiha Margarita is a Greek variation on the classic
This margarita recipe utilizes silver tequila and complements it with the smooth, sweet, and herbal notes of mastiha liqueur. Pomegranate molasses gives it an acidic punch along with the lime. These ingredients come together to make a beautifully balanced, distinctly coastal cocktail.
Mastiha is still making its way across the world. It has been grown on the Greek island of Chios for centuries. And only in the south of that island are the trees able to produce the aromatic resin. It’s the resin that is the key ingredient in so many products. For example, everything from chewing gum, to high end beauty products, and the liqueur in this cocktail. You can find it at any Greek market and usually at spirits shops. For this recipe, I’m using FOS Mastiha.
Want to join me at my next Mediterranean Meets Mexico pop up? Check out my Events page to see when it’s happening.
Greek Goddess Mastiha Margarita Recipe
- 1 1/2 ounces silver tequila
- 1 1/2 ounces mastiha liquor such as Fos Greek Mastiha
- 1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
- Juice of half a lime
- Extra lime and pomegranate seeds for garnish
- Greek sea salt for glass rim (optional)
- Rub lime over the lip of a glass, spread salt in a small dish and dip the lip of the glass in salt.
- Add ice to a cocktail shaker along with all the liquid ingredients.
- Shake until the shaker starts to get cold and frost.
- Strain and serve over ice, garnished with lime and pomegranate seeds.
If you don't have pomegranate molasses, try substituting pomegranate juice.